The beat-up, laminated brochure in the airplane seat pocket warns: In the event of an emergency, you must put your oxygen mask on first.
(Ahhhh the good old days. Remember traveling?! The mini pretzels. The mini bottles.)
Welcome to Culture Airlines. Please put your cell phone on airplane mode and your bag completely under the seat in front of you! If you don’t want your destination to be total burnout or breakdown, listen up!
Put your mask on first. To care for your people, you need to take care of yourself.
Your team. Your residents. Your family. Your friends. They all need you. But first in line? You.
Become a Navy SEAL
I once met a Navy SEAL at a wedding where he was playing the role of best man. His body moved like a robot. Smooth and strong and CALM. All muscle and all business. My hand actually hurt when we shook hands. (Remember shaking people’s hands?)
The U.S. Navy SEALs know a lot of things. Self-care is not something that we would normally equate with the SEALs but their natural work environment is so high stress that they must use self-care techniques to effectively lower their internal stress and manage their anxiety. Or else…
Guaranteed, right now YOU are existing in fight-or-flight mode. That survival mechanism evolution equipped you with so you can be ready for anything; tense, on edge, able to fight or run to save you life. Instead of dealing with the occasional bout of stress, stress has become your normal operating system. (Thank you, 2020!)
So, are you ready to overcome stress like a Navy SEAL? Lucky for you, I am not suggesting you begin a hardcore workout regimen that makes your handshake rival Hulk’s and allows you to hold your breath underwater for endless periods of time. Actually, I want the opposite.
All I am asking you to do is breathe. Like the SEALs do.
The Navy SEALs practice box breathing (also known as four-square breathing).
It’s a breathing technique that focuses you on taking slow, deep breaths. The up side to simple, focused breathing is heightened performance and concentration, and powerful stress relieving.
And it couldn’t be easier either.
Close your door. Take a few minutes and practice this stress relieving breathing technique. Once you have mastered it, teach it to your teams. Just like a team of elite soldiers, if someone on your team is riddled with stress and overcome with anxiety, you cannot function at your best as a whole.
- Make sure you are seated upright in a comfortable chair, with feet flat on the ground.
- Choose a quiet room free from stressful distractions.
- Keep your hands relaxed in your lap with your palms up.
- Sit up straight with good posture.
- Close your eyes.
Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
Hold your breath inside while slowly counting to four in your head. Don’t clamp your mouth or nose shut, just simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for four seconds.
Exhale slowly for four seconds.
Repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times or for about four minutes, or until calm returns, whichever comes first.
The benefits of this type of intentional and controlled breathing are many. According to the Mayo Clinic, the autonomic nervous system (that which controls the fight-or-flight response) calms down, and the act of holding your breath triggers the parasympathetic system to put you in a more relaxed state of mind.
Simple enough to do and teach, powerful enough to make a part of your daily self-care routine.
Fearless, like the SEALs
The SEALs train to be fearless and you can too! Simple, yet powerful is what our new online, on-demand course, Fearless in the Face of Crisis, is all about! Now that you have lowered your stress level find out all the other ways your life and work can get better with Fearless! Click here to learn more!